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Eviction Distinction

The Santa Barbara Independent and other media sources commonly report stories about evictions. Recent examples have been Dario Pini’s properties as well as the San Vicente Mobile Home Park. Eviction, strictly defined and to much of the public, means that people are having to involuntarily leave their homes. In California and to property providers, being “evicted” means that the resident went through a legal proceeding to be forced out.

I’d like to take this opportunity to inform these tenants, as well as readers, that technically most of these are not evictions. Unless tenants have not paid rent, violated their rental agreement, and/or any other reason a landlord may terminate an existing lease for tenants’ failure to comply with the terms of the contract or California law, they are being given a notice of termination of tenancy, which is different from an eviction.  

An eviction is a legal action against a tenant, also called an unlawful detainer in California.

The other is a notice that the property provider gives to the resident basically stating they need the unit back and are terminating their tenancy.  These notices do have the same end result where the resident must move, butthey are many times they are given to stellar tenants. These reasons vary by owner to owner, and it could be the property provider fell to hard times and needs to move back or that the property transferred hands and the new investors want to renovate and increase rates.

The difference is that an eviction is a lawsuit that goes through the court system and into a database, much like a bankruptcy would. Landlords can run an eviction search, and it will come up and flag a tenant’s application if not disclosed. Or, on a rental application, there is the question that asks, “Have you ever been evicted?” Most landlords will choose a prospective tenant with no record/history of eviction. In a city such as Santa Barbara, with such a low vacancy rate and the search for housing so competitive, this distinction can make a real difference. I’d like to take this opportunity to educate tenants and readers about the importance of using the correct terminology. 

While “eviction!” makes great headlines and provokes visceral responses from readers, it is ultimately the stellar tenant that it will harm when they check that eviction box “yes” when they are applying for a new home after their lease was terminated.

Unless a tenant has gone through the court system with an eviction, they have not been evicted. Does it lessen the fact that a tenant must leave their home? No, but it does enhance their chances of finding new housing, if they use the correct terminology.

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